School board hears plans for facilities upgrades

Published 6:59 pm Saturday, April 28, 2018

Work will begin soon on the Vicksburg Warren School District’s 13 buildings, but it will be a couple of years until all of the planned projects are completed.

The VWSD Board of Trustees were presented with a tentative schedule Thursday for the projects that will be completed under the $131.5 million facilities upgrade plan by Gary Bailey, who is the program manager for the project.

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The initial design work has already started with the two high schools the first projects to get under way. The projects, which include work at every school and the construction of a new Academy of Innovation, are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020.

“We will be hosting a contractor working session very soon for the entire community to fill them in on what kinds of projects are coming up and what it takes to be a public bidder,” Bailey said. “We are encouraging local people to be involved. There are bid laws we have to follow, but we can do a lot of encouraging.”

Each project is broken down into a design, bid and construction phase with the longest projects taking place at Vicksburg and Warren Central high schools.

Non-roof construction is expected to start at Vicksburg in October and non-roof construction at Warren Central is expected to start in January.

The timeline for the Vicksburg High project is currently being expedited because the district is applying for new market tax credits, which expire in October and would require work to be started by then.

The process of designing the two high schools, which will both see massive remodels and expansions, is already under way and the current plan is to present the initial models and designs at a board work session scheduled for 3 p.m. on May 17.

“We had this board room full of architects, technology people, the athletic director and most importantly teachers, principals and students,” Bailey said of the design process.

The design work for Vicksburg and Warren Central junior highs is expected to start in September with construction starting in June 2019.

The junior high projects are scheduled to finish in mid-2020.

The plan calls for the construction of a brand new Academy of Innovation with the design work starting in October and construction taking place from July 2019 through July 2020.

“My brain is working feverishly on some ideas that I am going to show that I am pretty excited about,” Bailey said of where the new AOI will be located.

“It is not where we originally talked about, between the two schools. I think we have some more visible opportunities to make it a show piece.”

Work on the elementary schools will be staggered with some design work already underway and some not starting until January.

The facilities plan also calls for upgrades to the high schools’ athletic facilities. The athletic upgrades will be handled as a separate part of the plan, but a timeline for their design and construction has not been set.

“We had a very successful walkthrough with Preston (Nailor) to start establishing the scope,” Bailey said. “I am looking to bid all the athletics together for both campuses as one contract. I am very serious about the issues of equality and equity and that is one way to guarantee that.”